Outdoor recreation spending grew 5% each year since 2005, study says

The Great Recession apparently did not keep Americans from enjoying the great outdoors.

From 2005 to 2011, spending in the U.S. on outdoor recreation grew by 5% annually to $646 billion, according to a report released Wednesday by the Outdoor Industry Assn., a trade group for outdoor retailers and manufacturers.

During tough economic times, many Americans turn to outdoor activities, such as camping, as inexpensive alternatives to other diversions, such as foreign travel, according to industry experts.

In addition to the $646 billion in direct spending, the industry also generates about $80 billion in federal, state and local taxes and supports 6.1 million jobs, according to the report.


Americans spend about $121 billion annually on outdoor gear, including clothing and shoes, plus $525 billion on travel, food and lodging, the report said.

Among outdoor activities, camping generates the greatest amount of spending, about $143 billion annually, followed by water sports, which spurs $86 billion in spending, according to the trade group report.

“During a time when some American industries are struggling, we are seeing solid growth,” said Will Manzer, chairman of the Outdoor Industry Assn. board of directors.


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